Frequently Asked Questions

Who may file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?

The Florida Wrongful Death Act states that only the decedent’s personal representative may file a lawsuit under the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  The personal representative, however, sues on behalf of the decedent’s survivors (family members) and the personal representative “shall recover for the benefit of the decedent’s survivors and estate all damages, as specified in this act, caused by the injury resulting in death.”  Fla. Stat. § 768.20.  Once a recovery is made, the personal representative and attorney disburse the funds to the various survivors.

This means that only the person named as the personal representative may file suit.  That person is usually a family member, but not always or necessarily.  In addition, The personal representative then recovers for the decedent’s survivors (family members).

The Act does not include any limitations upon who may serve as personal representative.  In Barfield v. Schmon, the Fourth District Court of Appeal referred to Florida’s Probate Code for guidance in determining whether a foreign personal representative may serve as a Wrongful Death claim personal representative.  537 So. 2d 1056, 1057 (Fla. 4th DCA 1989).  Based on the Probate Code’s language indicating that “actions may be maintained in the courts of [Florida] by personal representatives who produce authenticated copies of probated wills or letters of administration duly obtained in any state or territory of the United States,” a foreign personal representative may file and maintain a wrongful death action in Florida.  Id.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages may the Estate of the Decedent recover in a Florida Wrongful Death lawsuit?

In Florida, the person named as the personal representative of the Estate of the deceased person (decedent), is the only person who is permitted to be named as the Plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit.  The personal representative then files suit, and recovers damages for each survivor (as defined under the Florida Wrongful Death Act) and also for the Estate.  The Florida Wrongful Death Act specifically identifies the damages recoverable on behalf of each survivor and also on behalf of the Estate.

The decedent’s Estate may recover:

1. Loss of earnings of decedent from the date of injury to date of death, less lost support of survivors, excluding contributions in kind, with interest.  Fla. Stat. §768.21(6).

2. Loss of the prospective net accumulations which might reasonably have been expected but for the wrongful death, reduced to present money value, are recoverable by the estate if:

a.Decedent is survived by a spouse or lineal descendants, OR

b. If:

i.Decedent was not a minor;

ii.There are no survivors entitled to damages for loss of support and services, and

iii.There is a surviving parent.  Fla. Stat. §768.21(6)

3. Medical or funeral expense resulting from decedent’s injury or death if now charged against the estate or if originally paid by or on behalf of decedent.  This excludes any medical or funeral expenses which were paid by any survivor.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(6)(b).

What are prospective net accumulations?:

Net accumulations are defined by Fla. Stat. §768.18(5) as:

1. “the part of the decedent’s expected net business or salary income, including pension benefits, that the decedent probably would have retained as savings and left as part of her or his estate if the decedent had lived her or his normal life expectancy.

2. “‘Net business or salary income’ is the part of the decedent’s probable gross income after taxes, excluding income from investments continuing beyond death, that remains after deducting the decedent’s personal expenses and support of survivors, excluding contributions in kind.”

In Tobias v. Osorio, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that a jury severely abused its discretion in awarding $150,000.00 to the decedent’s estate for net accumulations where two witnesses each testified that the decedent was employed by different employers and there was no evidence regarding the decedent’s salary, or the amount the decedent might have saved throughout his normal life expectancy.  681 So. 2d 905, 907 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996).

In Citrus County v. McQuillin, the Fifth District Court of Appeal held that a jury’s $50,400.00 award for net accumulations was “speculative and based on insufficient or no evidence,” where “the [decedent] had no record of saving anything by the time of the accident and no evidence was presented that the decedent had any propensity to save in the future, or ability to do so.”  840 So. 2d 343, 346 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003).

The court held that “the jury may consider the decedent’s skills, age, health, earnings and propensity to save” in determining an award of net accumulations.  In McQuillin, the evidence established that “the decedent was twenty eight years old and worked as a cashier from thirty to forty hours a week, earning between $ 160.00 to $ 180.00 per week. She had dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade but was working on obtaining her GED. The decedent and her husband exhausted both of their paychecks to meet their living expenses and had no record of savings. They were ‘mostly trying to keep up with the kid and keeping everything paid.’” Id.  As such, the award of lost net accumulations was speculative and not supported by the evidence.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What if I (or another survivor) was partially responsible (or at fault) for the incident which resulted in the death of my loved one? May I still file a wrongful death lawsuit against another party who was more at fault?

Yes.  If you had some (no matter how small) responsibility for the accident which resulted in the death of a loved one, the emotional toll on you and those around you can be devastating and debilitating.  Don’t let your own grief become an obstacle to ensuring that other persons or entities who bear more responsibility for the death of your loved one are also held accountable for their negligent actions.

Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, “A defense that would bar or reduce a survivor’s recovery if she or he were the plaintiff may be asserted against the survivor, but shall not affect the recovery of any other survivor.”  Fla. Stat. § 768.20.

In Frazier v. Metropolitan Dade County, the Third District Court of Appeal held that “under [section 768.20] of the wrongful death statute, a non negligent survivor’s recovery cannot be reduced due to another survivor’s negligence.”  701 So. 2d 418, 420 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1997).  The court ruled that non-negligent father’s recovery could not be reduced based on the comparative negligence of the decedent’s mother.  Id.

This also means that even if you were partially responsible for the death of your loved one, this may reduce your ability to recover (according to the amount of fault you bear), but will not affect or limit the ability of other survivors (such as the decedent’s children or spouse) to recover for the death of their loved one.

While it is important that every person be accountable and take responsibility for their own actions, don’t let your own grief become an obstacle to ensuring that other persons or entities who bear more responsibility for the death of your loved one are also held accountable for their negligent actions.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages may parents of an adult child recover in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

First, adult children are defined by the Florida Wrongful Death Act as children over the age of 25, notwithstanding the age of majority.  Fla. Stat. § 768.18(2).

Parents of a deceased adult child may recover: 

1. Value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

Factors to be considered include:

(a)Survivor’s relationship to the decedent.

(b)Amount of decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor.

(c)Replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor.

2. Future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

3. Mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(4).  Parents of an adult child may only recover pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages may parents of a minor child recover in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

First, minor children are defined by the Florida Wrongful Death Act as children under the age of 25, notwithstanding the age of majority.  Fla. Stat. § 768.18(2).

Parents of a deceased minor child may recover: 

1. Value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

Factors to be considered include:

(a)Survivor’s relationship to the decedent.

(b)Amount of decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor.

(c)Replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor.

2. Future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

3. Mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(4).

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages may minor children recover for the death of a parent in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

First, minor children are defined by the Florida Wrongful Death Act as children under the age of 25, notwithstanding the age of majority.  Fla. Stat. § 768.18(2).

Minor children (under the age of 25) may recover: 

1. Value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

Factors to be considered include:

(a)Survivor’s relationship to the decedent.

(b)Amount of decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor.

(c)Replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor.

2. Future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

(3) Lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance, from the date of the injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(3).

(4) Mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury, from the date of the injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(3).

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages may all survivors recover in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

1. Value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

Factors to be considered include:

(a)Survivor’s relationship to the decedent.

(b)Amount of decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor.

(c)Replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor.

2. Future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

3. Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death are recoverable by a survivor who has paid them.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(5).

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages may adult children recover for the death of a parent in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

First, adult children are defined by the Florida Wrongful Death Act as children over the age of 25, notwithstanding the age of majority.  Fla. Stat. § 768.18(2).  Adult children (over the age of 25) may recover:

1. Value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

Factors to be considered include:

(a)Survivor’s relationship to the decedent.

(b)Amount of decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor.

(c)Replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor.

2. Future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

If there is a surviving spouse, adult children MAY NOT recover for lost parental companionship or mental pain and suffering.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(3).

If there is NO surviving spouse, adult children MAY also recover:

3. Lost parental companionship, instruction, guidance, from the date of the injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(3).

4. Mental pain and suffering from the date of the injury, from the date of the injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(3).

For purposes of determining whether there is a surviving spouse to define the damages recoverable by adult children, if both spouses die within 30 days of one another as a result of the same wrongful act or series of acts arising out of the same incident, each spouse is considered to have been predeceased by the other.  As a result, if both spouses die within 30 days of each other as a result of the same accident, then adult children may recover lost parental companionship and mental pain and suffering as a result of each parent’s death.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages may a Surviving Spouse recover in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

1. Value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

Factors to be considered include:

(a)Survivor’s relationship to the decedent.

(b)Amount of decedent’s probable net income available for distribution to the particular survivor.

(c)Replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor.

2. Future loss of support and services from the date of death and reduced to present value.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(1).

In computing the duration of future losses, the joint life expectancies of the survivor and the decedent and the period of minority, in the case of healthy minor children, may be considered.

3. Loss of decedent’s companionship and protection from the date of injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(2).

4. Mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(2).

5. Evidence of remarriage of the surviving spouse is also admissible in considered the value of the surviving spouse’s damages.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(6)(c).

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What Damages are recoverable for the death of my loved one in Florida under Florida's Wrongful Death Act?

The damages (money) which are recoverable in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit are specifically identified in Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.  The specific damages which are recoverable depend upon a number of factors, but most importantly, depend upon who are the decedent’s (person who died) survivors.  For example, was the decedent survived by a spouse, children, minor children, adult children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.  Was the decedent a child?  There are different damages recoverable by different groups of survivors and the damages each group of survivors may recover is also dependent upon who are the other survivors.  The recovery which is permitted by adult children of a decedent is significantly impacted by whether or not the decedent was survived by a spouse, for example.

May we recover the lost wages of our loved one in a Florida Wrongful Death lawsuit?

In Florida, the person named as the personal representative of the Estate of the deceased person (decedent), is the only person who is permitted to be named as the Plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit.  The personal representative then files suit, and recovers damages for each survivor (as defined under the Florida Wrongful Death Act) and also for the Estate.  The Florida Wrongful Death Act specifically identifies the damages recoverable on behalf of each survivor and also on behalf of the Estate.

Lost wages are included in the damages recoverable by the Estate.  Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, the estate may recover a decedent’s lost wages only from the date of injury to the date of death.  However, any awards for the lost support of survivors for this time period are subtracted from the award for lost wages for the same time period.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(6).

What other damages are recoverable by the Estate of the decedent?

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

May we recover the funeral expenses or doctor's bills from our loved one's death in a Florida Wrongful Death Action?

1. Medical or funeral expenses due to the decedent’s injury or death are recoverable by a survivor who has paid them.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(5).

2. Medical or funeral expenses resulting from decedent’s injury or death [are recoverable by the decedent’s estate] if now charged against the estate or if originally paid by or on behalf of decedent.  This excludes any medical or funeral expenses which were paid by any survivor.  Fla. Stat. § 768.21(6)(b).

In Dourado v. Ford Motor Co., the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that “[t]he Wrongful Death Act, sections 768.21(5) and (6)(b), Florida Statutes, does not authorize the admission of evidence of medical expenses not charged against the estate or paid by or on behalf of the decedent as proof of economic loss.”  843 So. 2d 913, 914 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003).

In Horton v. Channing, the First District Court of Appeal also held that a plaintiff in a wrongful death action must present evidence of medical expenses which were either paid by a survivor or which have become a charge against the decedent’s estate or which were paid by or on behalf of the decedent.  698 So. 2d 865, 869 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997).

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

May siblings recover under the Florida Wrongful Death Act for the death of a sibling?

Maybe.  In Thompson v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., the Third District Court of Appeal held that non-parent blood relatives must be dependent upon the decedent in order to recover as survivors under Florida’s Wrongful Death Statute.  670 So. 2d 1070, 1071 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1996).  The court ruled that in order to be declared dependent upon another, the person must exhibit “an actual inability to support [themself], and an actual dependence upon some one else for support, coupled with a reasonable expectation of support, or with some reasonable claim to support, from the deceased.”  Id.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

May I still recover money damages if the decedent was partially at fault for the incident which resulted in death?

In general yes.  If the jury determines that the Decedent was partially at fault for the incident which resulted in death, the recovery by the survivors in the Wrongful Death lawsuit will essentially be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the decedent.

Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, a Wrongful Death Lawsuit may be filed “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person,” when the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty “would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.”  Fla. Stat. § 768.1 (emphasis added).

This means that any defenses which would have been available against the decedent if the decedent had survived and the lawsuit was simply a personal injury lawsuit, (such as the defense that the decedent was partially at fault in causing the accident which resulted in injury or death) are applicable to a wrongful death lawsuit.

While this may decrease a potential recovery against any other at fault parties, it does not, in and of itself, destroy a lawsuit or the right for recovery against other at fault parties.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

May Children born out of wedlock recover for the death of a parent in a Florida Wrongful Death lawsuit?

In general, the Florida Wrongful Death Act permits a child to recover for the death of their unwed mother.

The Florida Wrongful Death Act does not, however, permit children born out of wedlock to recover for the death of a father unless the father has recognized a responsibility for the child’s support.

In Rogers v. Truitt, the Fifth District Court of Appeal held that a father has recognized a responsibility for the support of his unborn child sufficient to meet the requirements of Fla. Stat. § 768.18(1) and deem the child a ‘survivor’ under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, and thus eligible to receive damages, where the father has acknowledged his paternity of the child the day before he died.  596 So. 2d 1081, 1082 (Fla. 5th DCA 1992).  The Rogers court held that “[t]he Florida Wrongful Death Act requires us to liberally construe such act, including the definition of “survivors,” in order to carry out the public policy of the state to shift the losses resulting when wrongful death occurs from the survivors of the decedent to the wrongdoer.”  Id. (internal citations omitted).

In Whitefield v. Kainer, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that the allegedly illegitimate daughter of the decedent, who was born nine months after the decedent’s death, was not a survivor under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.  369 So. 2d 684, 685 (Fla. 4th DCA 1979).  The court reasoned that since there was no evidence that decedent was even aware of the pregnancy, the decedent could not have recognized a responsibility for the child’s support as required by the unequivocal language of the statute.  Id.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

May an unborn child recover for the death of a parent under Florida's Wrongful Death Act?

In short, yes, if the child is born alive after the parent(s’) death.  In Larusso v. Garner, the Fourth District Court of Appeal noted that “[a] child born alive may recover damages under the Wrongful Death Act for a parent killed shortly before the child’s birth.  888 So. 2d 712, 720 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004) (citing Ellis v. Humana of Fla., Inc., 569 So. 2d 827, 828-29 (Fla. 5th DCA 1990)).  The Larusso Court quoted the Ellis Court as stating that “the unborn child was entitled to recovery under the Wrongful Death Act once born alive . . .” and noted that the Ellis Court reasoned that “[i]t seems more consistent with the legislative intent to hold that the minor child of the decedent (even if unborn at the time of decedent’s death) is a survivor under the act.  The rights of such child, inchoate at the time of the wrongful death, become fully vested upon the occurrence of its live birth.”  Id.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

For Whose Death May a Wrongful Death Action be Filed?

Under Florida Statutes §768.19, an action under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act may be filed “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person,” when the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty “would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.”  Fla. Stat. § 768.19.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

Does the Court have to approve a settlement in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Sometimes.  Even if no lawsuit has been filed, settlements pending in wrongful death cases under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act must be approved by the court in order to be effective in two circumstances:

1. If the settlement is to amount or apportionment among the beneficiaries and is objected to by any survivor; or

2. If the settlement affects a minor or incompetent survivor.

In Pearson v. DeLamerens, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s approval of a wrongful death settlement which had been objected to by the surviving father of the decedent.  656 So. 2d 217, 221-22 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1995).  The court noted that where the surviving father had not accepted, and had consistently objected to the proposed settlement amount which was being offered to the personal representative for apportionment to the surviving father, pursuant to Florida Statute 768.25, the settlement should not have been approved by the trial court.  Id.

In Columbia County Sheriff’s Office v. Florida Dep’t of Law Enforcement, the First District Court of Appeal held that where the attempted settlement included proceeds for the decedent’s minor children, a binding settlement could not occur until the court gave its approval.  574 So. 2d 234, 237 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991).  The court held that in spite of settlement negotiations setting forth the general terms of a settlement agreement, the issuance of a draft in accord with the alleged settlement agreement, the delivery of the draft to the plaintiff’s attorney, and the execution of a release, the negotiations and agreement could not form a binding agreement until the settlement was approved by the court pursuant to Florida Statutes section 768.25, since the settlement included proceeds for the decedent’s minor children.  Id.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

Can any attorney handle a Florida Wrongful Death case?

Any licensed attorney may technically handle a wrongful death lawsuit.  Far fewer attorneys _should_ handle a wrongful death lawsuit.

Many attorneys claim to be wrongful death lawyers capable of handling a wrongful death lawsuit.  In fact, if you search for a wrongful death lawyer in your area in any internet search engine, you’ll be inundated with thousands of results from attorneys claiming to be wrongful death lawyers.

As the questions and answers on this website should make clear, there are many, many issues involved in any wrongful death case, and  which are very different from the typical personal injury cases handled on a day to day basis by most attorneys who claim to be wrongful death lawyers.  Many attorneys are simply not experienced enough in handling wrongful death cases to know how to navigate the difficult waters of such a lawsuit.

If you have lost a loved one, you’ve already been hurt beyond words.  You can only file a wrongful death lawsuit once.  Do not hurt yourself and your family again by selecting an attorney who shouldn’t be handling a wrongful death case.  Make sure, whatever lawyer you hire, that you determine:

1. What lawyer will be handling the case?  Will a lawyer be handling your case, or will they pass the case off to a paralegal or a case manager and you’ll never see or hear from the lawyer?

2. Is your lawyer experienced?  Did they just graduate law school or have they been in practice for years?

3. Has your lawyer ever handled a wrongful death case?

4. Do they know the law applicable to Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

5. How many wrongful death lawsuits have they handled?  What were the results?

6. Does the lawyer have the experts needed to prove such a case?

7. Does the lawyer, or the firm, have the capital and resources needed to handle and finance a wrongful death case?  These cases can go on for years, with significant expense.  Will your lawyer be able to hold out for the correct value settlement or go to trial if necessary, or will they push you into the first lowball settlement offer extended just to get the money in the door and move on to the next case?

The Jacksonville and Sarasota Wrongful Death attorneys at Holbrook Law have years of experience handling Florida Wrongful Death lawsuits.  These have ranged from cases involving eight-figure demands to more modest claims.  Holbrook Law is experienced, aggressive and has the knowledge and resources necessary to handle your case.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

Are there time limits to sue for Wrongful Death in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Yes.  The statute of limitations applicable to a Florida Wrongful Death lawsuit, is much shorter than the typical personal injury lawsuit in which you have four years to file suit.  The statute of limitations in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit is only two years.  Depending upon the person(s) entity which was responsible for the death, there may be additional time constraints applicable which shorten the time in which to act.  As such, it is extremely important to retain a qualified and aggressive attorney as soon as possible so you do not miss the time limit for a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

May a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit be filed for the death of an unborn child?

Although there are limitations on aborting a fetus because they at some point become legally considered to be a person, a Wrongful Death lawsuit cannot be filed in Florida as a result of the death of a fetus, because a fetus is not considered a “person” under the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  Stern v. Miller, 348 So. 2d 303 (Fla. 1977); Hernandez v. Garwood, 390 So. 2d 357 (Fla. 1980).

In Stern v. Miller, the Florida Supreme Court was faced with the question “whether a seven month old, viable fetus, fatally injured by another’s negligence, was intended by the legislature to be included in the term “persons” for purposes of [section 768.19 of] the Wrongful Death Act, notwithstanding subsequent stillbirth.”  348 So. 2d 303, 305 (Fla. 1977).  The Florida Supreme Court recognized the irrational result allowed by prohibiting recovery for injuries and death to unborn, although viable, fetuses when it noted that:

bq. [t]he reasons for recovery are compelling: A viable fetus is a human being, capable of independent existence outside the womb; a human life is therefore destroyed when a viable fetus is killed; it is wholly irrational to allow liability to depend on whether death from fatal injuries occurs just before or just after birth; it is absurd to allow recovery for prenatal injuries unless they are so severe as to cause death. bq.

Id. at 306.  However, the Supreme Court also recognized that it had previously ruled, while interpreting a separate statute which had been replaced by Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, that “a right of action for wrongful death can arise only after the live birth and subsequent death of the [minor] child,” id. at 310 (quoting  Stokes v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 213 So.2d 695, 707 (Fla. 1968).  Since the legislature declined to further define the meaning of the term “person,” the previous definition was presumed to have been approved by the legislature.  Id. at 307-08.

In Hernandez v. Garwood, the Florida Supreme Court again reiterated that no wrongful death cause of action may be maintained under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act for the death of a stillborn fetus.  390 So. 2d 357, 358 (Fla. 1980).  See also, Tanner v. Hartog, 696 So.2d 705 (Fla. 1997); U.S. v. Dempsey, 635 So.2d 961 (Fla. 1994).

A mother who is injured (where the injury causes the death of the unborn child) may still have a valid for personal injury, however.  The consideration of the loss of the child would in such case be a component of emotional pain and suffering damages.

The father of an unborn child faces much more difficulty in making a recovery from the party responsible for the death of his unborn child as a result of the interplay between the Wrongful Death Act and Florida’s Impact Rule.

If another party has caused the death of your unborn child, please call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

What laws govern Wrongful Death lawsuits in Florida?

In Florida, Wrongful Death lawsuits are governed by the Wrongful Death Act, which is codified at Florida Statutes §768.16 to §768.26.  The act determines who may file a wrongful death lawsuit, on whose behalf a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed, what damages are recoverable in a wrongful death action and addresses various defenses which may be raised in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who may Recover in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Under the Florida Wrongful Death Act, the people who are entitled to recover for the death of another person (the Decedent) are called “survivors.”  Survivors are defined by the Act as the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, wholly or partially dependent blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters.”  Fla. Stat. § 768.18.

No amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one, but the law permits, and justice demands, that families whose loved ones have suffered a wrongful death present claims seeking fair compensation for their loss at the hands of another.

If your loved one has been wrongly killed as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of another, call (904) 900-5533 or email an aggressive and experienced Holbrook Law wrongful death lawyer to set up a no obligation, free consultation.  In such cases, there is no fee unless a recovery is made in your case.

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